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FATE (Sook-myeong) (Korean)

  Publicity Stills of
(Courtesy from Encore Films)

Director: Kim Hae-gon
Cast: Song Seung Heon, Kwon Sang Woo, Ji Seong, Kim In-kwon, Park Han-byeol, Ahn Nae-sang, Jeong Woo, Kim Min-joo, Choi Jae-hwan, Yoon Won-seok
RunTime: 2 hrs 3 mins
Released By: Encore Films and Golden Village
Rating: NC-16 (Violence)
Official Website: http://encorefilms.com/fate

Opening Day: 14 August 2008


Woo-min, Cheol-jung, Do-wan and Young-hwan: they are the perfect team to rule the underworld. When they were united, nothing could stop them. Their plan to attack a casino and steal the money to get a fresh start seemed destined to be a success. That is, until Cheol-jung’s unexpected betrayal turned their world upside down!

Woo-min is enraged at Cheol-jung’s betrayal and for making everything go wrong. Cheol-jung betrayed his friends to get what he wants and to succeed in the cold, dark world. Do-wan dreams of making a comeback while Young-hwan try to quietly help his friends in the background. Woo-min’s girlfriend, Eun-young, is also caught up in the whirlwind of the four men’s destiny.

Meeting at the crossroads of fate, endless deception and betrayal grow rampant. The four friends are confronted once again with an unavoidable battle.. They collide on a harbor front illegal trading site, all with different motives... Now, their unavoidable fight with fate begins!

Movie Review:

Sook-myeong is the story of four gangster friends of different temperaments who met with the same destiny after 123 minutes of screen time. For the good gangster, k-drama idol Song Seung Heon channeled two years' experience in compulsory army service to act as a newly-released prisoner. This movie is also a career turn by Kwon Sang-Woo as the principal foul-mouthed gangster, Mr "Shibal" (as vulgarities go, I find the Korean version of the four-letter word strangely repulsive coming from them pale-faced idols with the ruby-red-lips). That said, Kwon put in the most credible performance in a confusing movie that ran like a "best of" cutaways from the many gangster genre k-dramas out there.

Sookmyeong is wildly irrational and it requires deep suspension of disbelief to be taken seriously. Take the opening sequence as an example: while I wonder why any gangster would rob a bank with nary more than a stylish gait and a baseball bat, about 200 serious-looking security-type gangsters began to charge at robber-gangsters mostly empty-handed. What, real security guards with shotguns only exist in comedies? By the time another 200 gangsters charge Song in the middle of a shopping district, I began to hallucinate about the Right Hand of Doom bursting from Song's right arm.

Sook-myeong is touted as the show in which "pretty boys go bad", but in line with the general confusion reflected in the movie, director Kim Hae-gon also commented that "You can put scar on Kwon and Song's faces, but that won't take away their looks. I considered making them look messier but it's a futile effort. If I wanted ugly characters I wouldn't have cast them in the first place." Quite right, Park Han-byeol is pretty good-looking!

Actually, I put the blame squarely on Kim; the director tried to do too much of everything. Kwon, as the traitor-baddie, had to be funny as well. Song, as the ex-convict, had to look good and make moon-eyes at the audience as well. Park, she had to act on top of looking pretty. This is a movie about gangsters and friendship; what has 40-inch pecs gotta do with it?

Now, the positives. For the best part of the show, the audience member would be better served exploring better ways to spend his time.

Movie Rating:

(Like the grotesque golem in Yiddish folklore, the Korean actors with the sculpted body and the manicured hands put in a soulless display. Some idols think they only look good fierce-looking)

Review Tyler Lim


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